Growing up in my parent’s home, there really was no option. Sunday through Thursday we ate together as a family around the dinner table. Friday was for TV trays, Kid Cuisine dinners and TGIF on ABC. On Saturday, we would go to Pick A’ Flick and rent a movie. The smell of pizza filled the air as we laid out blankets and pillows on the floor making ourselves comfortable for family movie night. Other than those two exceptions to the rule, we always ate dinner at the table.
More than food was dished out at my parent’s table; a buffet of life’s lessons was also served. There I learned of the horror of wars, life during the 60’s and 70’s, what it was like to hear Jimmy Hendrix play guitar or to see The Doors perform in San Francisco. I also learned of love, grace and forgiveness. There, my father learned to treat me as an equal. I learned to respect his wisdom. I watched as my mom created wonderful meals with her two hands. She often invited me to help and because of those moments I now love to cook for my family and friends. Seated at that old wooden table, I watched my brothers grow, change and become men. From my seat, I strived to be an example for them both.
Looking back through the lens of time, I will cherish those moments eating and talking together for the rest of my life. My kitchen table doesn’t get used as much as it should, but when it fills with those whom I love I am instantly taken back to busiest room in my childhood home. At the time, the conversations didn’t seem that impactful. I often left the table focused on what we ate, what I heard or a disagreement with my dad. Looking back, everything and everyone who has ever mattered to me has sat around that table. Some of those people, I will never eat and talk with again, yet there will always be a chair for their memory at my parent’s table.
When life becomes too challenging and the issues of the day too pressing, I wish I could go back there. When phone calls, texts or messages won’t do, I wish I could sit down to a warm plate of my mother’s cooking. When I need guidance, I wish I could be surrounded by their love and laughter. One of the great unspoken hardships of adult life, is the pain you feel as you cling to moments and opportunities never fully appreciated. The time spent around that dinner table is one of those moments for me.
There I gained wisdom from the people I love the most. I am who I am, in part, because we ate dinner together as a family. One day, my house will be filled with people who I love. Without a doubt, the television will be silenced, hands will be washed, thanks given, food served, conversation had and love materialized in the most simple of terms.
Be good to each other,